Friday, 31 July 2015

Wattle I Do Today?

' if angels had flown right down out of the softest gold regions of heaven...' - D.H. Lawrence, Kangaroo

Out walking with my dog in the reserve this afternoon I was thinking about the Australian landscape and its relationship to artistic endeavours like painting and writing.

During the latter part of the eighteenth century and the early nineteenth century there was an expectation that the picturesque painter (and the picturesque itself) would faithfully render a location.

Picturesque paintings assumed a similar importance to current day holiday snapshots because they sought to capture a moment for later reminiscence, or to display an image of the landscape to those who had stayed at home.

This was because contemplation of landscape in the eighteenth century was not a passive exercise, but rather one which required reconstructing the landscape in the imagination.

In the twenty-first century, writing remains an active enterprise. As a writer, my imagination will transform the hills and valleys, the granite outcrops, the magpies celebrating the first hint of spring, into a story or two.

Sitting down to explore the landscape of my writing journey this afternoon, I recall that everywhere I looked the wattle was in bloom.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

What has HARDCOPY ever done for me?

Becoming part of HARDCOPY 2014 has certainly been a turning point. It has given me the confidence to pursue my writing.

When I wrote the application last year, one of the questions I was asked to answer was about what I hoped to achieve by being part of HARDCOPY. I remember thinking that making connections with the writing community would be a great outcome of the program.

Writing alone in my study is one thing, being part of a group of like-minded people is something else altogether.

One of the offshoots of HARDCOPY was the creation of a monthly writers workshop in Canberra. We get together to support each other with our writing and to remind ourselves that others value the cultural work we do as writers.

Last night we braved the cold to meet (where else?) at Tilley's. Our usual table was waiting for us, and we workshopped an eclectic mix of stories. So thank you HARDCOPY for the ongoing camaraderie, the sense of purpose and the wonderful group of writers I am privileged to call friends.  

Monday, 27 July 2015

Goodwill Everywhere

A few days out from my first blogging deadline. My usual study is taken over by spare beds for visitors, so I am back on the kitchen table. At least it's warm here in the sun.

I've been working on a piece about becoming a successful writer. The key message appears to be that it's hard work. Certainly it takes perseverance.

Navigating distractions is the first step. Yesterday these included the TV (football was on, of course), making a cup of tea (Canberra's cold weather is designed for it), and the dog (surely he doesn't need to go out again). This morning it's the prospect of a school shuttle since the resident teenager has missed the bus. Perhaps I should go to the gym on the way back......

Despite these distractions, my first post is progressing well, thanks to the generosity of the people who have agreed to be interviewed at short notice. I'm also amazed by the level of support and goodwill from the ACT Writers Centre whose warm office last Friday was a welcome respite from winter.

More on the blog journey soon!

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Blogger in Residence

Exciting news this week that I will be the next Blogger in Residence for the ACT Writers Centre.

If you haven't already followed Capital Letters, it's a great way to keep in contact with the writing scene in the ACT and surrounding regions.

A recent post featured the  e-journal, Softcopy, which I launched with Lesley Boland and George Dunford in May 2015.

As I continue my writing journey over the coming weeks, keep an eye out for new posts featuring writer profiles, what it takes to be a successful writer, and the highs and lows of blogging.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Mr Percival All Over Again

Fingerbone: Mr Percival all over again, a bird like him never dies. Stormboy (1964)

Whenever there is a deluge in the outback, Lake Eyre fills with water and birds fly in from everywhere to take advantage of the brief oasis it offers. Pelicans nest and breed, somehow sensing the urgency of the season.
This cycle is a fantastic metaphor for writing. There will be dry spells, even droughts, but, like the Warburton River, the creative inspiration will flow again. When it does, write like your life depends on it!

Monday, 13 July 2015


The sensation of writing a book is the sensation of spinning, blinded by love and daring - Annie Dillard

Some days I'm so wrapped up in my writing that I lose track of time. It's as if my head is spinning in a universe where the story is being manufactured, word by word. 

When this happens, the characters take on a life of their own and their actions feel almost autonomous. Writing becomes euphoric and a giddy sense of daring takes over - like running across stones in a river. If you stop and look down you'll fall. But if you keep your focus, and skip across, you will surprise yourself.

Here's to reaching the other side - with dry toes!